The future-fit workplace

How can you promote a more fluid, flexible idea around where and how work gets done?

REPORT | 7m read
May 25, 2021

Executive summary

  • Just over half of Born Digital workers will want to spend most or all of their time working from home after the pandemic.
  • Although they prize flexibility, most still want a traditional five-day work week.
  • Unlocking the Born Digital’s potential gives organizations ­(and countries) a measurable competitive advantage.
  • Globally, businesses will need to invest in EX to help future leaders grow and succeed.

The year 2035 represents a dual milestone for the Born Digital. It’s not just the year in which technology may begin to outpace human workers; it’s also the point at which the Born Digital will effectively rule the business world. Leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to write themselves — their values, their acumen, their ambitions — into that future by investing in its Born Digital workforce today.

But achieving a sustained competitive advantage can’t be distilled down to “hire more young people.” Business leaders must proactively build the positive, collaborative, flexible environments that Born Digital workers demand from the post-pandemic knowledge economy.

A closer look

Our research found that over half of Born Digital workers (51 percent) want to spend most or all of their time working from home post-pandemic, while only 28 percent want to spend most or all of their time working in the office. Leaders, meanwhile, think that Born Digital Workers are most likely to want hybrid working with most of the time in the office (34 percent), followed by an even split between the two (25 percent) or office-working full-time (24 percent).

But though Born Digital workers are most likely to say that the office is the best place for productivity, they generally feel that working from home is better for well-being. Leaders, meanwhile, think that the office is best for productivity and well-being, both for themselves and their Born Digital workers. However, while many Born Digital workers want negotiable start and end times, the vast majority still want a traditional five-day work week. The key term is flexibility, not freelance.

Despite this, many Born Digital workers fear that the Covid-19 pandemic has tipped the scale toward contract-based work. And as noted in “Work 2035,” while very few business leaders believe that permanent employees will be rare by 2035 (19 percent), this is the belief of the majority of employees (60 percent).

Bridging this gap is critical. Luckily, the math is on business leaders’ side. The data in “The Born Digital effect,” based on a custom economic model created by Oxford Analytica for Citrix, demonstrates that by over-indexing on Born Digital workers, businesses are best set to increase profitability. And countries that over-index on Born Digital workers are positioned to be leaders in the future global economy.

An example: The US, which has a Born Digital population 0.7% percent above the average for developed markets/advanced economies, saw a +$218 billion impact on company profits in 2019 from Born Digital alone. Meanwhile, Germany, which has a Born Digital population -2.7% below the developed market average, could be missing out on as much as $349 billion in profit.

Globally, businesses that promote collaborative, flexible, and tech-forward environments will empower the Born Digital to succeed. They will need to champion individual progress, integrate real listening strategies into their processes, and build collaborative partnerships between leaders and younger workers.

By working to close the global generation gap, organizations can build their way to better.


of Born Digital workers would like to be permanently employed after the pandemic.


of Born Digital workers wish to be predominantly freelance.


impact on US company profits from its Born Digital population, which is 0.7% above average.

Related resources


Born digital: Lessons for the C-Suite from the next generation of leader


The critical case for employee experience: Apply three principles to fuel EX that unlocks your organization’s potential


Work 2035: How people and technology will pioneer new ways of working